As France battles high unemployment, rising taxes and pinched pocketbooks, the Socialist government has said its main focus is job creation. Now, critics of a more-than-century-old law that prevents most stores from opening on Sundays say revising it would be a good step in that direction.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault appeared to respond to that call on Monday, ordering a review of the law that labor unions and Roman Catholic faithful cherish, but that consumers — and increasingly some workers — decry.

Under French law, Sunday is a mandatory day off to help ensure rest and the quality of life, although some retailers in tourist areas or special commercial zones can get exemptions. Critics say the protections go too far, crimping modern lifestyles and putting France at a competitive disadvantage.